Literature Legend, Journo And Poet Don Mattera Dies.. Iconic poet, literature legend and activist Don “Bra Zinga” Mattera has died.
Mattera died just a day after Joburg Theatre honoured him with a spot on the walk of fame for his contribution to the industry.
His son and daughter came to accept the honour on his behalf. The family has confirmed his death through a statement. “Born Donato Francisco Mattera in Westbury in 1935, he died earlier today peacefully at his home in Protea Glen, Soweto.”
Chairperson of the Don Mattera Legacy Foundation, Jenny Jeftha, said: “This came as a shock to us. We have lost an icon in the literary and arts fraternity. Don’s passing will leave a literary void not just here at home but globally. We are still celebrating Dr Mattera’s receipt [of the honour] and the unveiling of the star at the entrance of the Joburg Theatre which celebrated 60 years over the weekend, and now he is gone.
“The foundation expresses their sincere condolences at the passing of a father, a son of the soil, a husband, grandfather and great-grandfather and commits to continuing the preservation of his legacy. Mattera will be laid to rest according to Muslim rites.”
Mattera became involved in politics in the 1970s. He helped to form the Union of Black Journalists, as well as the Congress of South African Writers. As a result of his political activities, the apartheid government banned him from 1973 to 1982. He then became a member of the National Forum, which was against what it referred to as the “racial exclusivity” of the United Democratic Front.
Mattera wrote poetry and an autobiography, called Memory is the Weapon. He wrote plays and children’s stories. He was awarded the Steve Biko prize for his autobiography. Mattera worked as a journalist for The Sunday Times, The Weekly Mail, now Mail & Guardian, and Sowetan. He was a popular motivational speaker and he was often invited to be a master of ceremony at different functions. He held an honorary doctorate in literature (DLitt) from the University of Natal.
He received fellowships from Sweden and America. He continued to work with street children in the Eldorado Park community. On July 31 2004, Mattera announced that he was retiring from public performances.
He will be buried on Monday evening according to Muslim rites.